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February FFANY Preview

FN offers a sneak peek at the upcoming FFANY show, including new brands and expanded space.

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FFANY’s February edition is fast becoming bigger than the niche event it was in the beginning.

According to Joe Moore, president of FFANY, the show is seeing heightened demand compared with last year, with 41 new exhibitors and a rise in international customers. The number of expected attendees is around 3,500, and more than 225 footwear brands will participate, including newcomers, such as Auri Footwear, Italian Accent Shoes, Miucha and C/O Angelique. To accommodate the larger numbers, the show, set for Feb. 2-4 in New York, will now expand across two locations, at the Hilton New York Hotel and the Flatotel, as well as member showrooms.

“More and more, [FFANY is] becoming a business center,” said Moore. “People feel it’s a must to do serious business here.”

Here, Moore discusses standing out in a down economy, bright spots in footwear and buyers’ moods this season for the show.

FN: What are the new features of the show this season?
JM: February is turning out to be a big deal to us because of new demand for space. So we will be at the Hilton with rooms, and we’ll be at the Flatotel. Between the two of them, it’s going to be probably around three times the size of last year, and in [terms of] dollars, we will have well over double the size of the show.

FN: Do you think buyers are feeling better or worse?
JM: It took everybody a whole year to get their inventories in line, and people are feeling cautiously optimistic. We don’t seem to have the gloom and doom of [before], and a lot has to do with buying for reduced demand. Footwear has been hanging in there better than a lot of areas. People are not expecting a bonanza, but they’re definitely feeling an [improvement].

FN: What do retailers and brands need to do to stand out right now?
JM: It’s basically a combination of product and service. You [have to] have fresh product and something that people need to spend their money on. [Consumers are] not looking to buy just for the sake of buying. You really have to have something fresh, something they don’t have. From a retailer’s point of view, it’s not the time to be conservative, but [it matters] how selective you can be with your product mix. Of course, service is close behind that, but product is always No. 1 to me.

FN: What segments are performing the best right now and why?
JM: I know the high-end dress shoe business is struggling. A lot of people have told me in the last two quarters that footwear has done well, so there is definite encouragement going forward. I think boots have saved everybody. It’s just automatically a higher-priced ticket. And the trend continues with all the strappy sandals.

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